Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Road to Copenhagen, Route to Failure

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." - Jonathan Swift
Please consider signing your organization on to a new international effort to prevent nuclear power from claiming any benefits and incentives during the December 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Called Ni Nucléaire, Ni Effet de Serre (neither nuclear nor the greenhouse effect) in France, where the campaign is based, and Don't Nuke the Climate, in English, the goal is to create a campaign document signed by organizations from across the world to be used in Copenhagen.

Nuclear power has been kept outside of climate change mitigation mechanisms to date. However, some evidence shows that the nuclear lobby could be preparing its comeback in Copenhagen to have this dirty energy labeled as clean or carbon-free and thus benefit from new subsidies. - Beyond Nuclear
Fortunately nuclear power will be represented in Copenhagen. In July, Kirk Sorensen traveled to Manchester, England, where he gave a presentation on the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, to a pannel that was preparing a report, called the Manchester Report, on alternative AGW mitigation technologies. Kirk talked to the Manchester Report Panel about The Thorium energy cycle, and using the Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactor as a source of low-carbon energy. No doubt this was considered a quite exotic message by the Report Panel, but it appeared to be well received. We will know more when the report is published sometime between now aqnd the beginning of the Copenhagen Conference in December.

It is too soon to expect that Kirk's message, transmitted to the UN conference, will by itself bring about big changes in thinking about climate change mitigation. Still the fact that the message will be presented at all on an international stage.

From the early 19th the end of the 20th century modern society relied on fossil fuels for most of its energy. The reliance on fossil fuels had by the end of the 20th century brought an enormous transformation in human material life. Yje transformation first occurred in Europe and North America, but by the end of the 20th century, the transformation appeared to have spread to Japan and South Korea, and to be spresding to China, India and much of South East Asia. At the same time the fossil fuel sector of the world's economy began to face a double crisis. First the world's fossil fuel resources appear to be reaching or will soon reach the point peak production. Especially in the case of fuel oil, we can expect to see an increase in demand from Asian consumers during the next few years, while many experts believe that wold oil production will peak and then begin to drop.

Coal an Natural gas will noit creat the sort of near run problem that Oil will, but debatyed about the World's coal reserve has started.

The second issue with fossil fuels is that of Greenhouse Gas emissions. Burning Fossil Fuels produces CO2, and armospheric CO2 is a major driver for Anthroogenic Global Warming. Scientist believe that adverse consequences, that could effect ti some, most or even all of the world's population could come about as a result of continued CO2 emissions asa the result of burning fossil fuels.

During the 19th and 20th centuries practices related to and dependent on the burning of fossil fuels, transformed the lives of a large minrity of the human populzation and inpated the lives of most of the human population. Most of the changes were deemed beneficial, but others were viewed as deleterious. A whole way of life emerged that entailed the use of large amounts of energy. Most people thought that such an energy rich would continue in its present form for a long time to come. There was a characteristic set of attitudes, beliefs, symboles and brehaviors that centered around energy and regulated both the individual relationship toward enery, and ordered social life with energy, Those patterns, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, ad symbols solved most human problems as peoples lives became entangled with energy use. Voices were raised, however, suggesting that the first energy paradigm, the first pattern of attitudes, beliefs, symboles and behaviors engaged with energy.

In 1956 Geologist M. King Hubbert predicted that ther production of oil would peak soon and then decline:

A year latter In December 1957 Edward Teller was invited to address the Annual meeting of the American Chemical Society. Teller was at the height of his fame. He was an honest to God celebrity, with reporters at his side, jotting down his comments, photographers snapping his picture, and as disgusting as it might seem now, women volunteering to sleep with him on the basis of his fame. (I know this because a beautify but wayward woman once describe an encounter with Teller to me. She would have slept with Teller had he consented to the arrangement.) He was referred to in the press as the Father of the "H-Bomb." He was also a darling of the American right-wing. No doubt the ACS thought by getting Teller to speak, they had achieved some coup. They must have been a little bit bewildered then when Teller started to talk about carbon dioxide and global climate. Teller told the assembled chemists that continued burning of carbon based fuels would increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, eventually warming the planet to the extent that the polar ice caps would melt, and the resulting rise in sea level would submerge costal cities under water.

Ways of life are forms of being. They do not die quickly and they die with much confusion, We only understand things, the philosopher Hegel told us, after they stop working. By then it is too late to save them. By the 1970's harbingers of the impending death of the fossil fuel energy paradigm had begun to emerge, but its replacement was far from certain. I will in my next post point how the fossil fuel paradigm was able to survive into the next century but probably will not survive much longer.

I hoop to continue my account of the Road to copenhagen before the week is over.


DocForesight said...

I thought President Truman, who actually ordered the dropping of the H-bombs, was a Democrat. Did the American right-wing convince Truman of that course of action or was there another source for his decision-making?

As to the Copenhagen Conference, has anyone reviewed this information:

Would appreciate any constructive critique of the facts in the study.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Truman ordered the drop of fission bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not H-bombs.

And by the way, what does H-bombs have in common with thorium reactors?

ed said...

@ DocForesight: The research paper by Tapio Schneider and Xavier Levine discusses refinements to the global circulation models and theoretical advances that will be needed to improve the models further. In particular, Schneider and Levine argue for a more comprehensive theory of Hadley circulation response to climate changes than currently exists.

It would be a misrepresentation and a serious error to conclude that the Schneider and Levine paper calls all climate modeling into doubt. Schneider's position is explained clearly in his article in Skeptic magazine:

Uncertainties notwithstanding, it is clear that increases in greenhouse gas concentrations, in the global mean, will lead to warming. Although climate models differ in the amount of warming they project, in its spatial distribution, and in other more detailed aspects of the climate response, all climate models that can reproduce observed characteristics such as the seasonal cycle project warming in response to the increases in greenhouse gas concentrations that are expected in the coming decades as a result of continued burning of fossil fuels and other human activities such as tropical deforestation.

DocForesight said...

@ed - Thank you for that explanation. What I gleaned from their article was similar to the measured considerations from Dr. Roy Spencer, UAH climate researcher.

These, and other researchers, caution the alarmist projections of CO2-caused AGW. Not that CO2 doesn't influence climate, it's just that we don't know enough about that influence to embark on an expensive, highly-complicated, difficult-to-measure program that may have no impact on the climate no matter what we do.

This isn't the first time that man has imagined being able to influence or control the climate.


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